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Monday, November 22, 2010

SL ARTS & LITERATURE: The Opportunity in Written Word

Second Life in its entirety is one big opportunity. Agreed? It just all depends on what you are looking for. There are a lot of people creating opportunity in SL: people who put in time, care, passion to providing something for people to use. Lots of these places are empty. No one is ever there. Virtual dust bunnies run in thundering herds, and creators wonder why. The key to providing opportunity in SL is that it must be tied to activity. “If you build it, they will come” only works in baseball movies, and sometimes not even then.

Jilly Kidd provides opportunity. I still remember the first conversation I had with Jilly at the end of the Autumn Writer’s Exhibition 2009 where she said, “We have to find a way to work together on something.” Jilly sees opportunity, breathes it, and eats it for lunch.
Jilly’s mission in SL is an extension of her real world passion and commitment where, as published author Adele Ward, she organizes readings and open mics in London. In Second Life, her commitment to promoting the opportunities for authors continues in the group Written Word. Written Word is one of the largest active writing, publishing and book groups on Second Life and can be found on Cookie Island and also on the London School of Journalism showcase island. The current information card from the group, which Jilly provided me, had no less than seven events regularly scheduled through out the week: readings, workshops, open mics. That doesn’t include the special events and one off sessions. Activity meets opportunity.

It is clear that the activity does not stop on the Second Life grid. Written Word also uses social media to connect authors, published and un-published, and keep discussion open and lively on a variety of subjects from the compositional to the promotional.

Then there are the writing competitions. Some are internal to SL, and some are crafted confluences or SL and real world opportunity, like the current Lumen/ Camden Poetry Competition. This competition is a chance for writers to have their poetry published in a 20-page pamphlet while also supporting the homeless, with the added benefit of the winner being selected by UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. The Lumen/Camden Poetry Competition is unusual as the entry fee per poem is just £2.50 to make it possible for lots of people to participate. The winner will also be selected on the basis of just one prize-winning poem (maximum length 40 lines), so people do not have to submit a whole pamphlet for a chance of being published. If writers want to submit more poems there are discounts, with 6 poems costing just £10. Jilly emphasizes, “Poets from SL can enter even if they're international as they can do it by email.” More information on this competition can be gotten through Written Word and at

Written Word does not charge writers for anything in the Written Word areas on the grid, and interested writers of all sorts can ask to use the venues for events or workshops and discussion groups. Written Word is funded purely by voluntary donation and by those invested in the potential of opportunity, and the importance of providing it accessibly to anyone interested.

Facilities include:

  • The Red Sky Club for live original music and the Meet an Author show which features RL published authors interviewed by Adele Ward, filmed and broadcast by Treet TV.
  • The Waterstage (on both islands) for open mics and the writers' circle plus talks from authors and publishers
  • The Meet an Author Bookstore and also the Fishmarket bookstalls full of books by published and unpublished authors on SL
  • The Beach
  • Dancefloor and quayside
  • Mary Coleridge Cottages for our writers and musicians and publishers in residence
  • George Orwell House for workshops and discussion groups
The space given to writers and publishers is free to encourage interaction between writers and publishers. RL publishers can be found on the hill by the Waterstage.

Those many weekly events include:

  • Regular Writing Competitions
  • A Writers' Circle (meets 2pm SLT, every Wednesday)
  • Meet An Author interviews at 2pm on alternate Saturdays (on hiatus at the moment - check out the archive) broadcast on
  • Exhibitions with free display booths for writers
  • A Short Story Discussion Group with a different published author to discuss every Friday
  • Workshops on everything from poetry forms to Fiction Writing
The Written Word group is free to join. Visit their sites on Cookie and at The London School of Journalism and look around: opportunity to use, to learn, to share, to relax. It is the opportunity to explore the written word, meet others doing exactly the same, and it works! There is so much more to discover. Written Word equals effective opportunity for writers in the virtual world. Carpe Diem!

~Caledonia Skytower, Reporting
"Any ink is good ink, even if it is virtual"


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